Captain stays top of Holstein rankings

Genosource Captain has held on to number one position in the latest UK rankings of genomic Holstein sires.

It is the third time in a row that Captain has topped the rankings, with his Profitable Lifetime Index (PLI) moving to £963, up from £880 in December. Captain’s sire, Hurtgenlea Richard Charl, has graduated on to the daughter proven Holstein rankings and moved to the top of that list.

According to AHDB, the continued success of Captain in the young bull rankings, coupled with Charl topping the proven list, is a “resounding endorsement” of the genomic testing system.

In the block calving indices, which are comparable across breeds, Jersey sire Danish VJ Tester retained number one position in the Spring Calving Index, with an overall score of £462.

The Autumn Calving Index was topped by Holstein bull Westcoast Guarantee and his overall score was £640.

Bird flu housing order to end in NI

A compulsory housing order for all poultry in NI will end at midnight on Tuesday 13 April, Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots has announced.

The order was introduced on 23 December to stop the spread of avian influenza. In January, two outbreaks of the H5N8 strain of the disease were detected on poultry units in NI.

“Measures put in place have been successful in helping to contain the disease and, provided that there are no new significant cases between now and mid-April, the current measures are due to be relaxed,” said Minister Poots.

Poultry keepers are being reminded that excellent biosecurity will still be required on units after the housing order has been lifted.

Simmental bulls peak at 5,600gns

Pedigree Simmental bulls sold to a top price of 5,600gns at Tuesday’s spring sale held by the NI breed society in Dungannon Mart.

Topping the sale was Ashland Lad, from Pat and Frank Kelly, Tempo. Sired by Raceview King, the 15-month-old bull was sold to WJ Fraser, Banffshire, Scotland.

Another bull headed to Scotland is Kilbride Farm Karl from the Robson family, Doagh. Their 19-month-old bull is sired by Curaheen Gunshot and sold for 4,100gns.

Two bulls made 3,000gns for vendor Nigel Glasgow, Cookstown, while William and Keith Stubbs, Irvinestown also realised 3,000gns for Rehall Karl.

Females sold to 1,900gns for Drumsamney Caramel’s Belle bred by Jonathan Henderson, Desertmartin. Overall, heifers averaged £1,890, with bulls averaging £3,623.

EFS payment delay

The first Environmental Farming Scheme (EFS) payments for the 2020 scheme year were issued to NI farmers last week.

Overall, payments worth £9.5m were made, which covers 60% of EFS Wider and Higher 2020 claims. DAERA states that the remaining £7m will be paid “as quickly as possible as claims are checked and validated”.

The EFS payments are being issued much later than in previous tranches. In the first year of the scheme in 2018, money was issued to participants by mid-December.

Tragic farm accident in Scotland

A 21-year-old woman has died in a tragic accident on a farm near Turriff in Aberdeenshire. Caroline Rennie was killed while working with farm machinery on Saturday afternoon. Emergency services attended the scene off the A947 Aberdeen to Banff road.

Ms Rennie was active in the Turriff Young Farmers Club and came from a well-known Aberdeenshire farming family.

LMC offers vet funding for medicine records

The Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) has offered to fund the installation cost in local veterinary practices of software relating to a benchmarking tool designed to monitor antibiotic use on farms.

The benchmarking tool has been developed by Moneymore based Farmvet Systems, along with other industry and research partners involved in the ‘Strategic Antimicrobial use in Dairy, Beef and Lamb Production’ (STAMP) project.

The LMC funding is available from 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. Vets who wish to use the tool should contact Farmvet Systems directly.

AgriSearch survey on cattle temperament

NI cattle producers have been invited to take part in a survey which aims to capture the number and severity of “near-misses” linked to temperament, and examine the decisions farmers make around breeding and management to improve health and safety on farm.

The delivery of the survey is being facilitated by AgriSearch, with the results used to inform the “TemperGene” project. It is being undertaken by AFBI, and aims to investigate the impact of genetics and environment on cattle temperament.

The survey is available to complete by online submission here, or alternatively by calling 07742485321 during office hours (9am-5pm).

DAERA get £2m for ‘green recovery’

Funds amounting to £2m have been given to DAERA for “green recovery” measures from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding came from the Department of Finance and was announced as part of last week’s budget.

“There is mounting evidence demonstrating the critical importance of investing in nature-based projects to rebuild economies, livelihoods and wellbeing,” said Dr Jonathan Bell from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).